There is a special place in between Kraftwerk-ian proto-beats, muzak and high-brow musique concrète or noise composition where Asmus Tietchens very comfortably resides. The Hamburg based artist swerves with great ease between high and low electronic music, proving to be able to make your forehead squeeze out more lines than usual, but also to provide a soundtrack for your most fantasy filled elevator. Records like Biotop or Spät-Europa deliver simple electronic music with a very vintage touch, but which also has at times something very menacing or very silly about it, while his grave side deals with field recordings of constructions site tubes which transport debris, as on Abraum, or the almost snobbish simplicity of sine and noise generators pling-plonging away on Ornamente.
2013’s Biotop is a prime example of Tietchens sterile sort of playfulness in which all his toys are extremely precise and frowning while dancing in their colorful underwear. The bi-colored cover of the album (a design scheme Tietchens seems to be very fond of) perfectly illustrates this ambivalence, by being at once minimalistic and refrained but in almost annoying sharpie pink and green. The songs are purely electronic instrumental pieces, in an almost pop around-the-3-minute-mark form with simple melodies, extremely static beats and a nostalgic sci-fi overtone. Gasmaske in Blau feels very ethereal and tension building, perfect for a B-side of Delia Derbyshire’s Dr. Who title track, Die elektrische Horde sounds just as brutal as its German title, a marching war machine song with perfectly oiled gears drawing nearer and nearer and Tango Fellatino swings between rock’n’roll and tv-show pop all under a cheap sketch visual effect transforming the agreeable, slightly danceable melodies into crude drafts. Biotop is dead serious in its approach, but the melodies and instruments used are at some of its points so extremely silly, that its hard not to feel a smirk creeping up on your pale and inexpressive, rectangularly spectacled face.
But under the moniker Hematic Sunsets, Tietchens lets go of almost all electronic pretentiousness, and focuses solely on mocking lounge music. While the releases under his own name are somehow focused on the music happening during his coming of age as a musician in the ’70s and ’80s, as Hematic Sunsets (an anagram of Asmus Tietchens) his music tries to reproduce the strange atmosphere of the fictional Aroma Club. The club seems to be placed somewhere near Twin Peaks, but also in a former Soviet country. The mix between kitsch, emotion, passion and faded colors has a fascinating flair and makes you want spend the rest of your days in the Aroma Club, forever dancing with your lover. His latest Hematic Sunsets release, Aroma Club Paradox came out back in 2009 and featured, like the other Sunsets releases, solely the sounds of a cheap home keyboard and turns the deeply human bar experience of cry in your beer loneliness, middle aged single dance parties and town drunk regulars into the soulless, glittery nightmares with the perfectly chosen titles that these songs represent. Schuldige Scheitel (Guilty Hair Part) sleazes it up with its thrusting drums and groaning effects, Tristesse Aromatique shows you waiting endlessly for your date, while your nostrils are more and more invaded by the perfumed cigarettes of the people not being stood up and Im Bett auf Pepita (In Bed on Pepita) is like the mechanical outro song for the Leisure Suit Larry game that never was, marking your sexual success, but also the sleazy depths to which you had to stoop.
So whether you want to put your thinking hat on and listen to Tietchens hermetic noise compositions as of late, or dust off your feathered fedora and go looking for a good time in the Aroma Club with the Hematic Sunsets discography, Asmus Tietchens’ music allows you to be yourself whichever extreme you may choose, just remember to do it in clear angles, few colors, geometric shapes and austere looks on your face and you’re good to go.